I first felt the pull to stay at home with my first born around the time she turned one year old. Honestly, I never thought I would ever desire to stay at home full time and raise a family. I had always loved my job, enjoyed the individuals I worked with, and thrived off the challenge of problem solving. Half way through my maternity leave, I looked forward to getting back to work. I would peak at emails and chat with coworkers via the phone or text. My life had revolved around my career for the last 15 years, and having a baby was not going to change my devotion to my job.
I was lost being a first time mom. It was all so new, lonely, and hard. When I started back to work, I never once cried when I had to drop my 12 week old daughter off at daycare. I looked forward to being able to focus on my day at work. But motherhood slowly grew on me. When my daughter turned six months old, is about the time I really started to enjoy her. I loved spending time with her, making her smile, providing for her, and playing with her. My love for her continued to grow and when she turned one, I understood what everyone had been telling me the entire time ~ “it goes so fast.” But when you are in it, it goes so slow.
When I told my husband how I was feeling, he was skeptical and thought this desire to stay at home would pass. I thought it might too. But as the months dragged on, I found myself not as focused at work, not as passionate about what I was doing, and yearning to be home with my family.
Five months after my daughter turned one, I gave my notice. And it felt right. It felt good. I felt at peace. And I was excited to spend every day with my daughter.
The first couple of months were easy. We got into a routine. I found activities for us to do like go to the local library for story time, go to the community park, and go to a gym that had open gym time for toddlers. I am just not one of those people that can stay at home; I have to get out and do stuff and interact with others.
Learning My Parenting Style
As my daughter got closer to turning 18 months old, her personality started to change. She started to test me and my boundaries. I didn’t really expect this. I had to discover what kind of parent I was going to be quickly because she was challenging me daily and studying my reactions. I researched parenting books on Amazon on a regular basis and bought several. Some I read, some I skimmed, and some I thought were just about using commonsense and were not very helpful.
The other issue I had to navigate as a stay at home mom seems a little silly, but as someone who worked in a professional environment for 15 years, all I had in my closet was professional clothing. I owned zero active wear pants or tops. Not that this is the uniform for stay at home moms, but elastic waist pants seem to make dealing with a child under the age of 2 more comfortable by allowing you to easily bend over to pick them up or get on the floor with them to play. So I slowly started buying clothing items that seemed to replicate what I saw other moms at the park wearing. While I was comfortable in these types of clothes, I was also uncomfortable. I was used to wearing layers to hide my new mom bod, and now I felt like I was out there in my tight fitting clothes. And I didn’t feel like myself, so I wasn’t confident. Obviously I gradually got over these feelings because 3 out of 5 days a week, I am wearing work out type attire even though I have zero plans to work out.
Making Mom Friends
The last item that was a transition for me was how to go about making “mom” friends. Other friends of mine that were now stay at home moms shared with me ways you can meet other moms through different mom groups, but it all seemed a little too awkward to me. I prefer organically having interactions and conversations with new people and not being in an environment where I am forced to have a conversation with you.. I mean, when I worked, I did it, but not in my personal life. No thank you. So I learned the art of having a conversation with the mom pushing their child on the swing next to me at the park, or how to initiate a conversation with a mom whose child your child has decided to become friends with as they chase each other around the playground. And then there are the moms you can tell are lonely and need a friend. I have always had a soft spot when I see someone standing by themselves at a social gathering that no one is talking to. I always try to include them, and I have always tried to do the same when I am out with my kids. I can’t tell you how many random moms I have in my contacts on my phone. I have them labelled as “Isabel’s mom from Emler” or “April from open gym”.
I used to wonder how differently my daughter would have turned out if I had continued working and left her in the care of day care 40 hours a week. Would she be so strong willed? Would she had been more submissive? Would she have been better at playing with others? Would she be a better listener?
What I have realized is that as moms, we are all dealing with the same issues whether we are stay at home moms or if we are full time working moms. We all have the same concerns and challenges with our kids. They come in waves and then they pass. As a stay at home mom, I just try my best every day to ride the waves of laughter, fun, and love with my kids. And all of the other stuff is just part of raising toddlers…and a bunch of MOMsense.
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